Wacken Open Air 2019, the year the festival turned thirty!
Three decades of heavy metal madness, three decades of blasting the north in August.
As always, Wacken had a banging line up to offer and with so many good bands to choose from it was hard not to have a good time.
I could go on and on about it all, but that would probably bore you to death, so instead let me tell you about my personal musical Wacken 2019 highlights in nor particular order!
In case you were wondering what went down this year in our camp, check out my camp diaries here.
What happens if two legends combine their anniversary?
An epic two stage takeover! During the 30th birthday bash of Wacken Open Air, Swedish power metalers Sabaton celebrated their very own anniversary, 20 years of Sabaton!
As a band anniversary usually calls for a special show, Sabaton took that thought one step further and delivered an epic set whilst casually taking over the Faster and Harder main stages at the same time.
The infield was so packed that security had to stop people from entering at one point, I was lucky enough to be one of the last few people that managed to get in. Stood at the very back I had quite a good view of both stages.
Sabaton kicked things of on the Faster stage with their usual tank on stage and Wacken was loving it. The sound right at the back sounded pretty nice and I was sad that I wasn’t closer to the stage.
The Swedish five piece delivered a career spanning set on the left stage as I fought my way closer to the front right in time as lead singer Joakim Broden made his way over to the Harder stage to start the festival set to end all festival sets.
Seconds later both stages were lit up and it seemed like the band had been cloned, as the Harder stage seemed to mirror the Faster stage. Upon close inspection it was clear, that no I wasn’t seeing double, but the band had been joined by their old band members instead!
I mean, how cool is that! Together, old and current Sabaton bashed out hit after hit and drowned the holy ground in an incredible loud sound. During ‘The Last Stand’ all hope was lost, and I was singing and dancing along like there was no tomorrow. That moment was just perfect, the two stages were so in sync and the sound was just incredible, it gave me goose bumps.
The two-hour slot flew by and the whole of Wacken was right there in front of the two main stages, marvelling at the stages, the choir, the band and of course Sabaton’s signature tanks! Yes, there was a tank on each stage!
When it comes to epic shows, Sabaton definitely have put the stakes up way high! This will be very hard to beat in the future.
Wacken is a festival that gives all subgenres of metal a platform, however some might say metal core has had its heydays a long time ago. Well, I strongly disagree! I am a proud lover of metal core and the Wacken organisers clearly agree with me as they gave the big headline slot of Saturday night to none other than Australia’s finest; Parkway Drive!
And what a show it was! Last time I saw Parkway Drive was at the metal awards in the small room at the O2 in London, performing in front of a few hundred fans and here I was in front of the Harder stage, slap bang in the middle right in front of the massive main stage, surrounded by thousands of metal heads.
Oh how the times have changed! Making the most of their headline slot Parkway Drive made their way through the crowd onto the stage, they literally walked past a few metres next to me. They started their set with ‘Wishing Wells’ and after the initial cheers Winston McCall addressed the crowd to notify them that right now they are missing one person on stage, bassist Jia O’Connor was absent.
He had broken his knee a few days ahead of the bands Wacken slot and they were unsure if they could make it at all, but Jia insisted that he would make it work. And with that said, Jia’s mum brought him on stage in a wheelchair. What a man! But if you think, what a cool guy, next thing you know is his mum stage diving and crowd surfing her way back to the sound desk.
Can this show get any better? Hell yeah! Parkway Drive launched into a powerful set, full of hits and fan favourites. The masses were going crazy, crowd surfers a go-go and mosh pit’s broke out everywhere.
There were a few times during their set that Winston had to just stop and take it all in. There is nothing more beautiful to witness a band, regardless of size, being so appreciative of their fans. If I would have had the chance I would have jumped up there, gave Winston a big hug and said ‘This is all you guys, all your hard work!’.
The set continued and I carried about 8000 crowd surfers, lost my shit to ‘Vice Grip’ and never felt so alive. Thank you Parkway Drive, that gig was fucking insane!
I was only a tad bit sad that there was no burning drum kit on stage, but I can see past that as that set was just the best!
World’s biggest heavy metal festival gives a stage to all sort of bands, small, big, established or just finding their feet. And so it happened that Sydney Hard Rockers ‘The Lazys‘ made their Wacken debut.
It is always incredible to be part of someone’s ‘first’. To be right there in the moment and share the experience with someone. Seeing bands play Wacken festival for the very first time is on a whole different level.
Having seen ‘The Lazys’ play London’s very own House Of Vans in the past was a good indicator of what to expect, let me tell you, they are anything but lazy!
The Aussie five piece took to stage at the Beergarden and instantly had the crowds attention! Being the rowdy bunch they are, the band took over the stage without hesitation and bursting of energy. Playing their hits ‘Little Miss Crazy’ and ‘Nothing But Trouble’ set the tone for the crazy set.
Unbeknownst to the band, the fans in front of the stage new every word to their songs what lead to utter disbelieve on the bands side as they looked out onto the crowd, having a hard time taking it all in.
Matty Morris grazed Wacken with one of his famous guitar solos and basked in the cheers from the crowd. Lead singer Leon Harrison couldn’t stop smiling as he looked onto the jumping crowd.
The Lazys played all the hits from their recent album ‘Tropical Hazards’ and surely picked up some new fans from the holy ground halfway through the set. Their unreal Wacken debut was only topped off by the fact that they took their time after the set and stuck around by the barrier chatting to old and new fans alike.
After the set I got to chat to Matty and Leon and what can I say, that interview was just the sweetest ever! The two were overjoyed with what had just happened on stage. If you wanna know more stay tuned!
MATT HEAFY – TRIVIUM
When you think of Wacken, you think: metal, loud music, mosh pits and loads of head banging.
What you probably wouldn’t think of is a civilised sit-down acoustic set with just a handful of people. You can probably only imagine my excitement when I found out that Matt Heafy from Trivium announced that he would be doing a little acoustic set on the holy ground.
As Matt was already roaming the festival ground as an avid gamer, it came to no surprise that he announced an intimate acoustic set in the newly relocated Wacken Gaming Area. I made my way down early as I had no idea what to expect and found a gaming trailer and some chairs carefully placed in front of it.
I sat down and quickly spotted Matt on the stage in the trailer, half hidden by a massive computer screen. A game demo was taking place and as I had nothing else to do watched the game play. After two rounds it was time for the acoustic set. A few more Trivium fans had gathered in the gaming area, eager to witness some acoustic goodness.
What happened next was very un-wacken. Matt sat down on the edge of the stage, acoustic guitar in hand and a foot propped up. He was quite happy at he smiled at the crowd and thanked everyone that turned up for coming to see him play, whilst so many other good bands were on at the same time.
‘Let’s play the heaviest fastest song on acoustic’ Matt Heafy joked before launching into a beautiful rendition of ‘The Heart From Your Hate’. For a moment it didn’t feel like I was in Wacken, as all I could see and hear was Matt Heafy and his acoustic guitar, all other noises seemed to be drowned out by him. Yet, at the same time, those things only happen in Wacken, so hey ho!
It was a gorgeous sweet but short set which ended in an acoustic performance of ‘In Waves’, where the fans joined in during the chorus turning that set into something to remember!
Matt was clearly over the moon and thanked everyone again for showing up. Little did we know at this point that we would see him again, casually delivering the guitar solo of his lifetime for the 30th birthday bash in the middle of the main stages!
Those were my personal music highlights at Wacken Open Air festival 2019, what were yours?